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Offline Bassam Zawadi

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I was reading brother Joseph's article here http://quransmessage.com/articles/thief%20hands%20FM3.htm

Some thoughts I had were:

- Why does 5:38 have to be understood in light of 5:33-34? 5:38 talks about cutting off a hand, while 5:33-34 talks about one of the alternatives being cutting off hands and feet from opposite sides. So this is a different punishment (as an alternative) meted out for a different crime. So where's the clear connection between these two verses?

- Why does 5:39 have to be understood as implying from forgiveness from corporal punishment? Just because someone endured the corporal punishment that doesn't necessarily imply that Allah has forgiven him his sin. There is still room for punishment in the afterlife. Hence, one could endure the corporal punishment, yet still require God's forgiveness in order to spare himself from the punishment in the after life. So... it's possible that 5:39 is talking about this forgiveness (i.e. from punishment in the afterlife) and not forgiveness from corporal punishment. Given this, the condition of "insistence" doesn't appear to be very clearly laid out now does it?


Also, I have seen Qur'an only Muslims explaining "cut" as only meaning "mark". How does one clearly refute them based on the Qur'an alone? If the Qur'an was so crystal clear on it's own, why did they fall into this exegetical error?


Thanks,

Bassam



Offline Wakas

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    • What does The Quran really say?
I recommend also reading:

Misconception: Islam and The Quran orders hands to be cut off for theft

The verse in question will be given then a discussion will be presented. It should be noted that like all punishments relating to members of a society, they are only enforceable if such a society is governed by the laws of The Quran. In such a society, it is a requirement for believers to provide for those in need [2:177, 2:215, 2:219, 5:89, 59:7].

The male thief, and the female thief, you shall mark, cut, or cut-off their hands/means as a recompense for what they earned, and to serve as a deterrent from God. God is Noble, Wise. Whoever repents after his wrongdoing and makes amends, then God will relent on him. Truly, God is Forgiving, Merciful. [5:38-39]

The above verses are commonly translated to mean physical cutting off the thief's hand or hands, however whilst this understanding is a theoretical possibility, when all the information is reviewed it is only one of several possibilities, hence the above translation. Firstly, it should be noted that the verse makes clear whoever commits theft but repents after and makes amends, then this is acceptable to God, thus no punishment can be administered in this case. This of course would only apply to those who do this before they have to be tried and found guilty. To prove this, see the verse below in which being punished is contrasted to relenting:

There are some who await God's decree whether He will punish them or relent on them. God is All Knower, All Wise. [9:106]

And how repenting and making amends shows a true repentance, thus reinforces the notion that a true/sincere repentance is accepted:

And whoever repents and takes corrective action, certainly he turns toward God with true repentance. [25:71]

The Arabic word translated as "cut" in 5:38 is "iqtaa" and occurs 14 other times in the same verb form (QaTaA) in The Quran, and with the exception of 59:5 and possibly 69:46 all other occurrences mean the non-physical or metaphorical action of "cutting off relationship" or "ending" [2:27, 3:127, 6:45, 7:72, 8:7, 9:121, 13:25, 15:66, 22:15, 27:32, 29:29, 56:33].

The derivatives that are read in the 2nd verb form (QaTTaA) occur 17 times. This form, which expresses intensity or frequency of the action, is used both to mean physical cutting off [5:33, 7:124, 20:71, 26:49, 13:31] and metaphorical cutting off [2:166, 6:94, 7:160, 7:167, 9:110, 47:15, 47:22, 21:93, 22:19, 23:53] as well as physically cutting/marking [12:31, 12:50]. It is interesting to note that even though 12:31 uses the more intensive verb form and both "cut" and "hands" together, it does not mean "cut off". The less intensive form is used in 5:38.

Secondly, the Arabic word for "hands" (aydi) is often used in The Quran in a metaphorical/metonymical manner [some examples are 2:195, 2:237, 3:3, 3:73, 5:64, 6:93, 8:70, 9:29, 23:88, 28:47, 30:36, 38:45, 48:10, 48:24, 111:1], and often has a meaning of power/means. It should also be noted that this word is in the Arabic plural meaning 3 or more hands, whilst only two people are referenced: the male and the female thief. Some have commented that this plural usage causes problems for the common interpretation of hand cutting.

Thus, it is possible to understand the punishment for thieves in three alternative ways, (1) cutting off their hands, or (2) cutting or marking their hands, or (3) cutting their means to steal, or cutting their hands from committing the crime. It is up to the society to choose one of these meanings or a combination of them depending on the severity of the crime and their ability to enforce the penalty.

It should be said however that the only working example given in The Quran of theft and its punishment is in the story of Joseph, in which option 3 is done by detaining the one guilty of theft, so that they can work to repay/compensate for the theft.

They said, "By God, you know we did not come to cause corruption in the land, and we are no thieves!"
He said, "What shall be its recompense, if you are not truthful?"
They said, "Its recompense is that he who has it in his bag, then he is its recompense. Like that do we recompense the wrongdoers."
[12:73-75]

Furthermore, 12:79 makes it clear that Joseph (described in 6:84 as one of the guided and a good doer) was acting in accordance with God's law in detaining only the one guilty of theft:

Joseph said: “God forbid that we would detain anyone except he whom we found our belongings with. Indeed, we would then be wrong doers.” [12:79]

Thus, one possible meaning of 5:38 is to apply it in the manner provided by Joseph's example.

One other potential problem is created if 5:38 means to physically cut off the hand or hands of the thief, when we consider what were to happen if a person had no hands or had been punished before hence had no more hands to cut/mark or cut off.
Also, when lashes are given as punishment for proven adultery, The Quran states not to let pity/compassion prevent you from carrying out such a punishment [24:2], but it says no such thing for the alleged hand cutting-off verse, when many consider this punishment to be worse. This adds to the possibility that it should not be taken to mean this.

Lastly, whatever interpretation is chosen, it is important to keep in mind the recurring theme of equivalence in The Quran, thus the punishment should be proportionate to the crime:

And those who, when gross injustice befalls them, they seek justice. The recompense for a crime shall be its equivalence, but whoever forgives and makes right, then his reward is upon God. He does not like the wrongdoers. [42:40]

To conclude, when all the above information is taken into account, it is clear that to physically cut off the hand or hands of the thief is not the only possible understanding and taking into account the law of equivalence would perhaps only be reserved for significant theft which led to harming others, hence harming the perpetrator. If a Muslim in authority, like Joseph was, were to apply the punishment for theft like Joseph did, then they would be following the example of one of the guided and a good doer, as stated by The Quran.


Offline Bassam Zawadi

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it is clear that to physically cut off the hand or hands of the thief is not the only possible understanding and taking into account the law of equivalence would perhaps only be reserved for significant theft which led to harming others, hence harming the perpetrator.

And that's the problem with Quran Onlyism. Thanks.

Offline Duster

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it is clear that to physically cut off the hand or hands of the thief is not the only possible understanding and taking into account the law of equivalence would perhaps only be reserved for significant theft which led to harming others, hence harming the perpetrator.

And that's the problem with Quran Onlyism. Thanks.


So the many serious differences in traditionalist views, sometimes enough to justify killing each other (Shia and Sunni / Barelwi / Deobandi  etc etc) .... provides evidence that Traditionlism is even a bigger problem and therefore to be rejected?

Offline Bassam Zawadi

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No, the difference is that Qur'an Onlyism claims and teaches that the Qur'ans interpretation is explicitly clear independent of a divinely sanctioned interpreter.

Seeing that interpretations of the Qur'an can differ and one can't clearly show the other to be wrong, the central theme of Quran Onlyism fails.


Traditional Muslims recognize that not all of scripture is literally 100% clear, while Qur'anists make it appear as if that is the case.

Offline Duster

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No, the difference is that Qur'an Onlyism claims and teaches that the Qur'ans interpretation is explicitly clear independent of a divinely sanctioned interpreter.

I am not sure if that is what many Quranic minded people say. I don't and I don't think people like bro Joseph others even claim this either. We recognize that Muhammad (saw) was a divinely sanctioned interpreter at his time with the circumstances he had to deal with.

What you are doing is 'extending' this to say that Hadith you have today full of absurdities is the Divinely sanctioned interpretation in the name of the Prophet! Why else would you mention this? That is the difference I think .... the amazing leap!

Offline Bassam Zawadi

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It's a shame they got to benefit from his interpretations, while we are stuck trying to guess what to do with the hand of a thief.

Offline Duster

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It's a shame they got to benefit from his interpretations, while we are stuck trying to guess what to do with the hand of a thief.

Not really. Traditionalists like you need to follow his approach. Rather than abandoning the Quran for interpretations from Hadith, we need to apply the Quran to our circumstances like the Prophet (saw) did to his.

As far as cutting or not cutting is concerned, Muslims need to understand the best  meaning from the Quran .... yes there might be differences of opinion - but so what? are you telling me traditionalists agree on everything? They even bring in punishments like stoning which have no proof in the Quran.!!!!

It is only a shame for those that think the Quran is useless (Maaz'Allah) on its own.

Offline Bassam Zawadi

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Best meaning according to home?

Is differences of opinion are possible, then isn't that a tacit admission that not all of the Qur'an is clear?

Offline Duster

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According to best interpretation from the Quran! The Quran are Allah's words. But when they are interpreted through the minds of fallible humans, differences of opinions will result! This is not rocket science. Its bound to happen. Such differences would have always existed .......even with those that followed the Tawrat. They even exist with traditionalists that try to interpret the Quran.

Even the Books of Hadith don't provide an interpretation of every verse in the name of the Muhammad (saw). They are opinions of men! That is all. Why can't you see that?

We are talking about an approach - as long as the approach is Quran focused then that is the most important thing.....

Today there needs to be learned men and women - even people like you who obviously have the brains but not the direction who should focus their energies in trying to understand what the Quran is saying rather than defending spurious hadith and spending a large part of their lives doing it! What wasted effort imho!

Offline optimist

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Salaam brother Bassam,

I would like to ask you whether you rely on the following hadiths to explain the Quran.

Sahih Al Bukhari (Vol.8.787/790): The Prophet ordered the cutting of the hand for the theft of a shield worth three Dirhams.

Sahih Al Bukhari (Vol.8.79): Narrated by Abu Huraira, Allah's Apostle said, "Allah curses the thief who steals an egg (or a helmet) for which his hand is to be cut off, or steals a rope, for which his hand is to be cut off."

Abu Dawood: Book 38, Number 4396: Narrated Jabir ibn Abdullah: A thief was brought to the Prophet (Peace_be_upon_him). He said: Kill him. The people said: He has committed theft, Apostle of Allah! Then he said: Cut off his hand. So his (right) hand was cut off. He was brought a second time and he said: Kill him. The people said: He has committed theft, Apostle of Allah! Then he said: Cut off his foot. So his (left) foot was cut off. He was brought a third time and he said: Kill him. The people said: He has committed theft, Apostle of Allah! So he said: Cut off his hand. (So his (left) hand was cut off.) He was brought a fourth time and he said: Kill him. The people said: He has committed theft, Apostle of Allah! So he said: Cut off his foot. So his (right) foot was cut off. He was brought a fifth time and he said: Kill him. So we took him away and killed him. We then dragged him and cast him into a well and threw stones over him.*

*Kindly let me know if there is any footnote for this hadith from scholars declaring this hadith as "unauthentic" (Hadiths from Bukhari I mentioned above, I know you consider each and every hadith completely authentic).

Do you think our prophet would cut off the hands of a thief for stealing an egg or rope or a shied worth 3 Dirhams?  Do you think whether these hadiths actually explain the Quran which prescribes equitable punishment for offenses?  What will happen if any islamic society literally takes these ahaadith to interpret the Quran and decides to implement the directives in the hadiths as it is?

Appreciate your comments.
 
Regards,
Optimist
The meaning which was lost in all our divisions will not be understood until our perceptions become untainted -  Allama Iqbal

Offline Bassam Zawadi

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Salam Optimist,

This is a lengthy topic (how to apply those hadith during our time, since a "dirham" back then isn't the same as "dirham" in our time, also conditions for hadd punishment (e.g. no famine, it was premeditated, etc.), etc.) and there are many ahaadith more to consider and opinions to look at and compare and contrast.

It's not the place and time to discuss it.

Offline optimist

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Salam Optimist,

This is a lengthy topic (how to apply those hadith during our time, since a "dirham" back then isn't the same as "dirham" in our time, also conditions for hadd punishment (e.g. no famine, it was premeditated, etc.), etc.) and there are many ahaadith more to consider and opinions to look at and compare and contrast.

It's not the place and time to discuss it.

Salam Bassam, 

Firstly, please note, I quoted the hadiths not to discuss whether we shall apply them under exceptional circumstances like famine.  You need to only tell us what is the rule under normal circumstances.   If "dirham" back then isn't the same as "dirham" in our time, what about the second hadith about cutting of hands for stealing an egg or a rope?    Also, you can not just simply ignore the hadith under the pretext of value difference, because, the hadith actually mentions about a shield worth 3 Dirhams.  And according to you this is "Divine revelation" from Allah (Allah forbid) and therefore, you have to calculate the price difference precisely and tell us what is the value you put now.   My question: Should we apply the rule mentioned in the hadith if some steals a shield worth 300 Dirhams in the present time (under normal circumstances)?  I expect also a comment for "an egg or a rope" issue.

Also, you have deliberately ignored the last hadith I quoted from Abu Dawood.  One must be under the influence of liquor to collect such a ridiculous, nonsense hadith contradicting common sense and contradicting Quran and throwing insult at the prophet.  This one hadith itself is sufficient to throw away the complete collection of Abu Dawood.  And the most funny thing is that you want to compare ridiculous hadiths like this with the things mentioned in the Quran!   Let us all get reminded from the following verse from Quran.

"Then woe to those who write the Book with their own hands, and then say:"This is from Allah," to traffic with it for miserable price!- Woe to them for what their hands do write, and for the gain they make thereby." (2:79)

Regards,
Optimist
The meaning which was lost in all our divisions will not be understood until our perceptions become untainted -  Allama Iqbal

Offline optimist

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Firstly, it should be noted that the verse makes clear whoever commits theft but repents after and makes amends, then this is acceptable to God, thus no punishment can be administered in this case. This of course would only apply to those who do this before they have to be tried and found guilty. To prove this, see the verse below in which being punished is contrasted to relenting:

There are some who await God's decree whether He will punish them or relent on them. God is All Knower, All Wise. [9:106]

And how repenting and making amends shows a true repentance, thus reinforces the notion that a true/sincere repentance is accepted:

And whoever repents and takes corrective action, certainly he turns toward God with true repentance. [25:71]
Salaam,

Nice post brother Wakas. 

Unfortunately, most traditional scholars interpret verse 5:39 to mean that if the thief repents after his hand is cut off, and then he reforms himself, then Allah turns to him in forgiveness!! The element of forgiveness and mercy is very strong in Islam. Yet, today in the formulation and enforcement of Islamic Laws the tendency is to be as harsh as possible

In this regard, here is a similar verse in the Quran;

“Those who launch a charge against chaste women and do not bring four witnesses should be punished with eighty lashes, and their testimony should not be accepted afterwards: except for those who repent thereafter and mend (their conduct). For Allah is oft-forgiving, most merciful”. - (24:4)

It is clear that if there is true repentance coupled with a change in conduct there will be no punishment.  Again in verse 5:33-34, even in very serious cases like waging war against Allah and the prophet and spreading mischief in the land, it is mentioned in the same verse that there shall be no punishment "for those who repent before they fall into your power; in that case know that Allah is oft-forgiving, most merciful".

Regards,
Optimist
The meaning which was lost in all our divisions will not be understood until our perceptions become untainted -  Allama Iqbal

Offline Duster

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Sahih Al Bukhari (Vol.8.787/790): The Prophet ordered the cutting of the hand for the theft of a shield worth three Dirhams.

Sahih Al Bukhari (Vol.8.79): Narrated by Abu Huraira, Allah's Apostle said, "Allah curses the thief who steals an egg (or a helmet) for which his hand is to be cut off, or steals a rope, for which his hand is to be cut off."

Abu Dawood: Book 38, Number 4396: Narrated Jabir ibn Abdullah: A thief was brought to the Prophet (Peace_be_upon_him). He said: Kill him. The people said: He has committed theft, Apostle of Allah! Then he said: Cut off his hand. So his (right) hand was cut off. He was brought a second time and he said: Kill him. The people said: He has committed theft, Apostle of Allah! Then he said: Cut off his foot. So his (left) foot was cut off. He was brought a third time and he said: Kill him. The people said: He has committed theft, Apostle of Allah! So he said: Cut off his hand. (So his (left) hand was cut off.) He was brought a fourth time and he said: Kill him. The people said: He has committed theft, Apostle of Allah! So he said: Cut off his foot. So his (right) foot was cut off. He was brought a fifth time and he said: Kill him. So we took him away and killed him. We then dragged him and cast him into a well and threw stones over him.*

Shalom / Peace

This is the kind of ridiculous nonsense that traditionalists like bro Bassam spend hours upon hours, years up years defending making Islam and the prophet look like a pathetic religion. They are the reasons why we are in the laughable...backward state that we are in.

They dance around the Hadith trying to defend such nonsense killing their religion in the process!!!! All they can come up with against those that have a quran's view is picking holes pathetically...'oh you can't agree on one interpretation' ... 'oh you can't know how to pray'.  But all the while they are defending nonsense such as this which makes a mockery out of religion and slaughters it. How do they even sleep at night knowing what rubbish is passed on in the name of the prophet? How do they? They are very critical when it comes to picking holes in the quran view approach but what about the damage they cause by their own methodology?

*sigh*  :o